If this was my machine I'd try cheap then not so cheap.
Cheap = http://www.geeks.com/products.asp?cat=SND
(I have that 7 buck USB sound card for such tests)
Not so cheap = http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Labs-Express-Blaster-Titanium/dp/B001E25KDK
Several months ago, I ran into an issue with my audio: The balance was shifted.
This can easily be fixed by manually changing the balance via the master audio controls, and I did so. However, the distortion would jump around, being more off-balance one day, then a couple days later be significantly less unbalanced.
My system is Windows XP Professional 2002 version with SP 3 installed off an OEM CD
Intel Core2 Quad, Q8200 @ 2.33 Ghz, 3.25 GB RAM. (More information can be given upon request)
I have been dealing with it for a while now, without any real way to fix it. However now I desire to see what I can do about it. Here is a list of solutions I have tried to no success:
1) Bought a new pair of headphones. I only use headphones when listening to music and playing games, and I usually have to replace them regularly. However the new set of earphones returned the same result. The brand I use is Sony.
2) New speakers. My current set of Boston 2.1 speakers are roughly 6-8 years old. They are rarely used AS speakers, acting instead as a bypass to get to the headphones. The new speakers, a CA 2.1 set Model number 3892 returned the same unbalanced results, as well as an annoying electric hissing (similar to the noise created when the volume is turned up high and no music is being played) independent of volume and the music being played, the system was just turned on. I packed the new set back up and returned to the old set as the Boston speakers had no such noise.
3) Installed new drivers. I don?t know much about drivers, but the sound card manufacturer, RealTek (located at http://www.realtek.com.tw/) had new drivers available (as of Nov 2nd 2009) So I installed these. I did not uninstall the old drivers, instead just running the EXE and installing as normal. There was no prompting about removing the old ones and the install went smoothly. This did not solve the problem however.
4) Installed updated motherboard audio drivers. Or at least I tried to. There were no audio driver updates for my motherboard (an ASUS P5N-D model motherboard, specs located here: http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=yQYfAtkxxZMjR79G) However, I did notice that under Utilities that the Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/2003 HD Audio Patch KB888111 was listed. Upon downloading this, I noticed that they had an install option for Win XP SP 1 and 2, but not SP 3, which I have. Looking through the Add and Remove programs list, this update was not listed as being previously installed. I?m not sure if it was going to be listed to begin with, but that it was not there should be mentioned.
I do have a front panel headphone jack that I have not been using, however I used it once a few months ago and the results were undesirable. I can try the jack again, however, and see if there is a difference now that I installed newer drivers. Using that jack is awkward however and I don?t really want to rely on it.
Though not terribly annoying, this is inconvenient. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated!